Catching a time machine from the year 1973, the five-piece rock outfit Shadowplay has established itself as a local force and sought after band in the New Jersey and Philadelphia area since 2009. A release of their first official EP has only garnered them more recognition and power to add to the gravitational pull of their career. Rumor of their first full-length LP has gained steam, and a purported release has been posted on their website (along with track listings) for sometime around July or August 2011.
The band consists of Andrew Corkery on lead vocals sounding like a mix of 70s southern rock and 90s grunge. Then there is Dan Holden on lead guitar, who in this reviewer's opinion shines brightest on his monstrous riffs and blistering solos. He is complemented by George Szegedy, who alternates between rhythm guitar and bass. Leading the percussion is Tim Bear, whose epic pounding and impeccable timing lays the groundwork for the rest of the band to interweave their creative sounds.
Their EP is full of head-knocking riffs, and each song demonstrates a slightly different side to the band. A song not on their EP but released as a single in early 2011, "Ghost Train" shows their ability to slowly build up a song around a rolling riff and then explode into full swing with a momentum that hypnotizes the listener's senses. The chorus takes away from the momentum slightly, but the simple yet catchy riff mixed with the steady percussion by Tim Bear provides the spark to makes "Ghost Train" a positive precursor to their full-length album release.
Other songs on the EP allow the band to display their versatility. "Like a Phoenix" and "Autumn Sky" are like epic 70s ballads, building up the songs with mythological and picturesque lyrics. The power of their song writing and musical maturity is evident by the structure and changes within the songs. Dan Holden shines throughout all of them with his leading riffs that fall right in line with the percussion while still allowing him to break away on soaring solos that seem to reach speeds of a Russian MIG jet.
"Pulse" comes off like a stomping giant right from the beginning with one of the best riffs on the EP, allowing the band to explore their musical ground using the riff as the bass. When Corkery raises the pitch of his voice up to cruising altitudes, he conjures up Chris Cornell from Soundgarden's BadMotorFinger.
As with everything, there are always some downsides. The production and mix of the sounds sometimes takes away from the power that this band seems to possess. As this is their first recorded EP, it can be easily forgiven. They show the ability to have many complex changes within their music, but only utilize this ability every now and then. Lastly, on "Ides of March" there is a section where the keyboards are clearly heard in a nice little jam with the guitars and drums. I hope to hear more of that format from them to add even more dynamics to their musical style.
There is no doubt of the immense talent emanating from this five piece. Fans of their type of music, in the mold of Wolfmother, Physical Graffiti-era Led Zeppelin, Lynard Skynard, and even Soundgarden in some spots will immensely enjoy the retro style of this band's song structure and Corkery's raspy croon. I know if they ever visit the west coast I will be in the crowd. Look for their debut album anytime now and hopefully we'll see them touring the country soon.
Reviewer Bio - Tim Rosini is part of the editorial team at Onlinerock team. Having a background in English literature with a concentration in creative writing, Tim found himself working for various magazines and websites after moving out to the west coast last summer. Having the ability to adapt his focus from business writing to creative fiction he has found a great place to exercise his passion for music on the onlinerock website.